Renovate Your Language!

Do you need to take another look at the way you describe properties in your marketing? Tiron Manning of Shedden Real Estate gives his opinion.

When you have just walked into a property for an appraisal, and you realise you can put a hand on opposite walls in every bedroom, what words come to mind for your marketing? Cosy? Quaint?

The house requires an expedition force armed with napalm and/or machetes to find the front door. You walk on the bearers and joists, as you fear falling through the floor. You see daylight through the gaps in the walls.

Needs some TLC? Renovator’s delight?

I came across an excerpt of a chapter from a book I read a few years ago. The book is called Freakonomics – a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. The chapter which should be of interest to you all is titled How Is the Ku Klux Klan like a Group of Real Estate Agents?

Provocative and engaging, it looks at the history of the Klan, its customs and language. It then examines how real estate agents communicate, their language and actions, thus drawing the similarities.

Going back to when I first started in real estate, I would have a list of recent sales from RP Data and drive around the suburb, looking at each house from the outside to gauge the values for property I was appraising. Over the last five years
the industry has changed. The days of real estate agents being the gatekeepers of all the secrets are all but gone.

Some try to maintain this paradigm by not disclosing sale prices, even though the public can access this information for free through websites like onthehouse.com.au

Agents of today are sharing information and tips, and are far more giving than those of the past. Social media has played a massive part in this.

The image of the real estate agent as a robotic, emotionless monster that wants to rob you blind is quickly cast away. We are normal people who have shared interests and passions, I would not have had the opportunities I have had, or met the people I have met, without the help of social media.

What language are we using when we limit our messages on our social media channels to a few key words? What do we use to get the buyers coming?

According to the chapter, the following words were attributed to a higher sale price:

  •  Granite
  • State of the Art
  • Corian
  • Maple
  • Gourmet

And these to a lower sale price:

  • Fantastic
  • Spacious
  • Charming
  • Great Neighbourhood

I am positive that most of you have used these words and not ever thought about the hidden context.

Think back to the rundown shack that needs TLC, or the ‘immaculate’ nanna’s house that has been ‘well maintained’. The vendors think you’re saying something complimentary or inoffensive, but the savvy buyers know you are talking out your backside.

Even in the age of technology – videos, floor plans, professional photography – we still need to write a charming and fantastic ad copy! Buyers can access previous sales and monitor how long the property has been on the market. They are not oblivious or naïve enough to believe that the courtyard is the size of a football field from the wide angle of the photo. Direct and honest communication will ensure you earn their trust and build rapport with them in a shorter space of time. Isn’t that going toward building a better brand for yourself?

We do have to be careful of our vendors’ feelings, but why do we wait until we have had countless inspections to tell them the 1970s wallpaper and the bright pink bathtub may be considered a little dated?

What response do you get from buyers when your ‘well maintained’ home comes to the market? ‘It’s too much work.’ Does that ring a bell? What is your vendor’s response? ‘How so? That wallpaper cost $10 a roll when I was only earning five quid a week!’

Keeping the language simple, no B.S. keeps almost everyone happy. Do I believe that we are like the KKK? Not any more. To be seen as progressive and proactive, we need to be embracing technology and communicating to our clients in their own language. If you aren’t prepared to change – do you look good in white?

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